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Monday, April 7, 2014

Gluten Facts And Figures

What is Gluten?

Gluten (from Latin gluten, "glue") is a protein composite found in foods processed
from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough,
helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture. Gluten is
used in cosmetics, hair products, and other dermatological preparations.

Gluten is extracted from flour by kneading the flour, agglomerating the gluten into an elastic
network, a dough, and then washing out the starch. In home or restaurant cooking, a ball of
wheat flour dough is kneaded under water until the starch disperses out.

Where is Gluten Found?

• Bread products - Generally, bread flours are high in gluten (hard wheat); pastry flours
have a lower gluten content. Kneading promotes the formation of gluten strands and
cross-links, creating baked products that are chewier in proportion to the length of
kneading. An increased moisture content in the dough enhances gluten development, and
very wet doughs left to rise for a long time require no kneading. Shortening inhibits
formation of cross-links and is used, along with diminished water and less kneading,
when a tender and flaky product, such as a pie crust, is desired.

• Imitation meats - Gluten, especially wheat gluten, is often the basis for imitation
meats resembling beef, chicken, duck, fish, and pork. When cooked in broth, gluten
absorbs some of the surrounding liquid (including the taste) and becomes firm to the bite.

• Food additive - Gluten is often present in beer and soy sauce, and can be used as
a stabilizing agent in more unexpected food products, such as ice cream and ketchup. It is
also used in some salad dressings, mayonnaise, medications and supplements. Foods of
this kind raise a problem, because the hidden gluten constitutes a hazard for people
with celiac disease.

• Animal feed - The protein content of some pet foods may also be enhanced by adding gluten.
SOURCE: Wikipedia, Gluten, Retrieved on March 20, 2014, from,

How Gluten Causes Trouble

People with celiac disease can’t tolerate gluten, not even small amounts. Just 50 milligrams of
the protein—about the amount in one small crouton—is enough to cause trouble. In people with
celiac disease, gluten in the bloodstream triggers an immune response that damages the lining of
the small intestine. This can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food, cause a host of
symptoms, and lead to other problems like osteoporosis, infertility, nerve damage, and seizures.

A related condition called gluten sensitivity or non-celiac gluten sensitivity can generate
symptoms similar to celiac disease but without the intestinal damage. Not long ago, celiac disease was diagnosed by a process of elimination. Today it can be identified with a blood test for the presence of antibodies against a protein called tissue transglutaminase. A biopsy of the intestine confirms the diagnosis. 

SOURCE: Harvard Health Blog, Going gluten-free just because? Here’s what you need to know, Retrieved on March 20, 2014, from,

Current Facts & Figures

• Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small
intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.
• An estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has celiac disease.
• Celiac disease can affect men and women across all ages and races.
• It is estimated that 83% of Americans who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or
misdiagnosed with other conditions.
• 6-10 years is the average time a person waits to be correctly diagnosed. (Source: Daniel
Leffler, MD, MS, The Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center)
• 5-22% of celiac patients have an immediate family member (1st degree relative) who also
has celiac.
• Celiac disease can lead to a number of other disorders including infertility, reduced bone
density, neurological disorders, some cancers, and other autoimmune diseases.
• Burden of disease over four-year period per patient:
o Females: $4,019
o Males: $14,191
(Source: Long et al, 2010)
• There are NO pharmaceutical cures for celiac disease.
• A 100% gluten-free diet is the only existing treatment for celiac today.
• A positive attitude, 100% of the time, helps celiacs create a gluten-free lifestyle for
themselves and their affected family members.
• The celiac disease diagnosis rate may reach 50-60% by 2019, thanks to efforts to raise
public awareness of celiac disease. (Source: Datamonitor Group, 2009)
• Gluten-free sales reached more than $2.6 billion by the end of 2010 and are now expected
to exceed more than $5 billion by 2015. (Source: Packaged Facts, 2011)

SOURCE: National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Celiac Disease Facts & Figures, Retrieved on March
20, 2014, from,

10 Signs You’re Gluten Intolerant

More than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten. It’s estimated that 99% of the people who
have either gluten intolerance or celiac disease are never diagnosed. It is also estimated that as
much as 15% of the US population is gluten intolerant.

If you have any of the following symptoms it could be a sign that you have gluten intolerance:

1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation. I see the
constipation particularly in children after eating gluten.
2. Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms). This tends be
as a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fatmalabsorption
caused by gluten damaging the gut.
3. Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.
4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid
arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis.
5. Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off balance.
6. Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility.
7. Migraine headaches.
8. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses simply indicate your
conventional doctor cannot pin point the cause of your fatigue or pain.
9. Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips.
10. Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and ADD.

How to Test for Gluten Intolerance

I have found the single best ways to determine if you have an issue with gluten is to do an
elimination diet and take it out of your diet for at least 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it.
Please note that gluten is a very large protein and it can take months and even years to clear from
your system so the longer you can eliminate it from your diet before reintroducing it, the better.

The best advice that I share with my patients is that if they feel significantly better off of gluten
or feel worse when they reintroduce it, then gluten is likely a problem for them. In order to get
accurate results from this testing method you must elimination 100% of the gluten from your

How to Treat Gluten Intolerance

Eliminating gluten 100% from your diet means 100%. Even trace amounts of gluten from cross
contamination or medications or supplements can be enough to cause an immune reaction in
your body.

The 80/20 rule or “we don’t eat it in our house, just when we eat out” is a complete
misconception. An article published in 2001 states that for those with celiac disease or gluten
sensitivity eating gluten just once a month increased the relative risk of death by 600%.

When in doubt, go without!

SOURCE: MindBodyGreen, 10 Signs You’re Gluten Intolerant, by Dr Amy Myers, Retrieved on March 20, 2014, from,

For More Information

• National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

• Celiac Disease & Gluten Sensitivity

• Hungry For Change

Eric Dempsey
NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Weight Loss Specialist
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